A conservative women’s group that supported the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is targeting voters in four battleground states with Facebook ads that attempt to downplay the importance of Roe v. Wade being overturned. The ads suggest that the economy and crime are bigger issues in the midterm elections.
The states—Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania—all have high-stakes races for governor and U.S. Senate. The Washington Post first reported on the ads from Independent Women’s Voice, which underscore just how unpopular the Supreme Court decision is with voters—even those who might normally vote Republican. It’s also yet another example of people ignoring that abortion is an economic issue.
The ad depicts a young woman and her grandmother looking at photos of the older woman protesting for women’s rights, before talking about the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe.
The young woman asks if her grandmother is going to vote in protest of the decision; the other woman responds by saying that “it isn’t 1973 anymore” and falsely claiming that “every woman has the right to choose.” (Abortion is currently banned in 13 states with a 14th, Georgia, only permitting it until six weeks of pregnancy). She also points out that birth control is widely available now and that many states have legalized abortion—which conveniently ignores that Republicans elected to the Senate this fall could vote for the nationwide 15-week abortion ban that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) recently introduced.
Here’s how the ad wraps up, according to the Post:
A young woman announces to her grandmother that the Supreme Court’s decision eliminating constitutional protections for abortion is “such a big deal.”
“And you know what’s a bigger deal?” her grandmother replies gently. “Unsafe communities, soaring prices and schools that don’t care about their kids or their parents.”
The young woman furrows her brow. “But you fought so hard for abortion rights,” she says.
“And we’ll both keep fighting,” her grandmother assures her. “But we must send a message on other issues hurting other people every day. And that’s what’s on my mind now.”
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Pennsylvania and Nevada currently have Democratic governors and flipping those seats could impact abortion access. Democrats losing any of the Senate races could determine control of the chamber.
There are two versions of the ad running right now, one that began on Oct. 7 and one on Oct. 12. Heather Higgins, the CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, told the Post that the group will be running more digital ads, putting ads on streaming services, and sending text messages.
Internal IWV memos obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with the Post show that Republican groups are concerned about the impact the case overturning Roe (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health) will have on elections. A fundraising proposal says: “As we predicted last May, the left has used the Dobbs decision to manufacture through misinformation a War on Women 2.0-playbook, updated from 2012, to drive women away from common-sense conservative positions and no one is effectively countering it.” IWV then laid out its strategy to counter messaging about abortion, including targeting 143,000 persuadable women voters in four key states.
Higgins has previously described IWV as a weapon in the “Republican conservative arsenal” that caters to “donors who want a high return on their investment for their political dollars,” per the Post. The group helped the effort to get Kavanaugh confirmed, in part by publicly discounting the sexual assault allegations against him. Higgins even bragged that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told her she couldn’t have voted for Kavanaugh without a messaging memo from its sister organization, Independent Women’s Forum.
Part of IWV’s success, Higgins claims, is hiding its conservative values by casting itself as independent. “We have worked hard to create a branded organization...that does not carry partisan baggage,” she said in 2015. “Being branded as neutral but actually having the people who know, know that you’re actually conservative puts us in a unique position.”
In her comment to the Post about the ads, Higgins said, “Obviously, Dobbs changed abortion law, but not nearly as dramatically and drastically as some of the hype encourages women to believe.” The aim of IWV is, in her words, to push back against a “toxic deluge of misinformation.”
The fundraising memo said IWV is in a unique position to message about Roe ahead of the midterms “precisely because we don’t take a position on abortion—we just simply point out the facts.”
The organization may not publicly take a position on it, but it sure has a viewpoint. Just something to consider as more ads pop up in the final weeks before the midterms!